According to a publication from the Associated Press (AP), at least 341 people have died as a result of heavy rains and flooding in South Africa’s eastern KwaZulu-Natal province, which includes the metropolis of Durban, and further rainstorms are expected in the following days.
eThekwini Mayor Mxolosi Kaunda estimated the damage to Durban and the surrounding eThekwini metropolitan area at $52 million on Thursday, April 14th. At least 120 schools have been flooded, costing more than $26 million in damage and forcing officials to close all schools in the province temporarily.
According to Education Minister Angie Motshekga, at least 18 kids and one teacher from various schools have died as a result of the floods:
“This is a catastrophe and the damage is unprecedented. What is even more worrying is that more rain is expected in the same areas that are already affected.”
Officials indicated on Thursday that the death toll is anticipated to grow since scores of individuals, including entire families, have gone missing.
The province has been devastated by the relentless rains, which have destroyed homes, collapsed buildings, and washed away important roadways.
According to South African media accounts, police fired stun grenades to disperse residents in the Reservoir Hills suburbs of Durban who were protesting what they felt was a lack of official support.
The South African National Defense Force has sent troops to help with the rescue and clean-up efforts.
The country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa hosted an emergency Cabinet meeting to designate the floods a national catastrophe, allowing cash to be released to assist with the damage restoration.
On Wednesday, he paid a visit to numerous communities affected by floods and mudslides. The president assured flood-affected families that necessary assistance would be provided, and that affected families should contact local crisis management centres or the nearest police station for assistance. 112, 10177, or 107 are stated emergency numbers to dial, for locals.
“While this is a disaster, we must hold hands together as South Africans, as people of KZN and as all structures of Government. We are treating this disaster with level of seriousness it requires,” said president Cyril Ramaphosa.
Water and power have been knocked out in huge portions of Durban and the neighbouring eThekwini metropolitan area, and officials say it would take at least a week to restore essential services.